Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Pairing Pears

I bought a box of pears on Saturday, planning to can them. I really did mean to. But by yesterday, Tuesday, it was pretty clear I wasn't going to do any canning. The pears had been used in lunches and snacks and, well, it's just a whole lot more fun to eat pears than it is to can them! I may change my tune come February, when a jar of home canned pears sound really, really good. But for now, I'm quite satisfied with our abundance of fresh pears.

Pears are sneaky. You think you're keeping your eye on them and just when you turn your back they start getting soft and mushy. I hate that.

So I opened up a temporary test kitchen and tried out a few new recipes. My strategy was to pair pears with other ingredients that would put some zing! in our dinner. I'll tell you about it in a minute. But first there is something that I need to show you.

A pair of pears
A pair of pared pears 
A pair of pared (and cored) pears

OK, now that I've taken care of that I can move on to the recipes!

In the morning I paired pears with quinoa and walnuts to share at our first MOPS meeting of the year, and it made a tasty salad. I'd like to recommend the recipe, but I need to tell you this: it doesn't save well. I had held out about half of it for our dinner but the pears got too soft just sitting in the salad all day.  Not so good in the evening as it was in the morning, so you'll want to eat it fresh, either warm or cold.

Here's the Pear-Quinoa Salad recipe I used. The only addition I made was to add dried cranberries.

While looking for pear recipes on the internet I passed over one that added pears and green peppers to cornbread, or at least I thought I did. When I went back to retrieve it, it was nowhere to be found. Who knows, perhaps I just made it up. So I chose a gluten-free cornbread recipe I use from time to time and added pears and peppers, and made muffins to go with our dinner salad. It was declared a success, though not the most beautiful muffins I've ever made. Your family might also find it a pleasing combination. Add two diced pears (we left the skins on) and about a half-cup diced green pepper. We got 18 muffins instead of the usual 12 that the recipe usually makes.

For dessert I tried pairing pears with blackberries from the bushes behind Merrill Gardens. The recipe I used was for strawberries and pears. Next time I'll stick with the recipe. The blackberries so completely overshadowed the pears that you couldn't even tell there were any in the dessert. I should have made a crisp rather than a cobbler, and the blackberries clearly needed more sugar than the strawberries would have. So instead of giving you the recipe I used, I'll point you to the peach crisp recipe I posted a year ago and suggest you try it with a pairing of blueberries and pears. Two pointers -- be sure to add a little corn starch or flour if the pears are too juicy, and be sure you have enough fruit to provide a substantial layer for the topping.

So this is how my pear box looks this morning. I'd probably better get started on pear sauce before I go to the fruit stand to buy a box of pears to can.

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